Not afraid anymore

Today I was reading the end of The Secret Life of Bees with my students and I came across a part of the novel that stood out to me. Interestingly enough, I have read the book a number of times and this scene never affected me before. The protagonist has an emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive father. At the end of the book, they have an altercation where she sees him in an entirely different light. She suddenly is not afraid of him anymore…he is no longer a threat. Instead, she looks at him with pity.

I realized that is how I feel about my dad now. Especially since he had the stroke, I oftentimes look at him and he appears so helpless and just…old. Gone is the dad who used to be able to chase me until he caught me…now he hardly has enough strength to push himself up off the couch. And even though he does not deserve it for the way he acted when I was younger, I do feel sorry for him. It’s hard to admit that because the logical part of my mind recognizes he does not deserve my sympathy.

7 comments on “Not afraid anymore

  1. Sometimes the heart overrides the mind, ya know? Don’t know if that is a “good” thing or not, but it certainly has to be recognized. Thank you for sharing this.

    Blessings,
    Paul

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    • Thank you, Paul. I decided a while ago that I wasn’t going to deny myself how I really feel…even if it isn’t how I ideally want to feel and even if it is confusing. Does that make sense?

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      • Absolutely it makes sense. And yet, it makes no sense because the heart doesn’t comply to what we would like it to do. Crazy stuff, eh? But I like that you don’t deny your feelings, even if they seem counter to where you “want” them. Ther are what they are. Neither good nor bad 🙂

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  2. My feelings softened toward my father as the years wore on. As the dementia took hold. But he softened, too. It’s a confusing time. But there’s some freedom there, I found.

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    • Agreed! I have definitely found that it is easier to have a relationship with him now, even though that doesn’t erase everything bad that happened in the past. I do have a lot of conflicted feelings, but things are much better now!

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

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  3. REDdog says:

    Like Paul said, feelings are neither good nor bad, though what we choose to do with them can result in actions one way or the other. Sometimes it is enough just to let the emotion wash in, and sometimes over us, and then wash out again…like the tide. I have experienced this “pity” also for my own Father, now in his 70s, though I still hold hope for some kind of acknowledgement before he loses his faculties. Respect DN. REDdog

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    • Thank you for your comment…I reread what you wrote a couple times because it is so simply- but beautifully- written. I agree that just allowing myself to feel what I feel (instead of denying myself my own feelings) has been very helpful! Good luck with your dad- sounds like a tough situation.

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